How to Hire a Ghost Writer

Have you figured out the benefits of being an author? It can be an important part of your career plan…having that book. But, what if you don’t have the time to do it? Or what if you’re afraid you’re not good enough? They say the smartest people are the ones who figure out when they need help. That’s true with ghost writing.

I have a friend, a life and career coach, who’s going to write a book to go along with her video and online curriculum. She’s a smart lady because she’s figured out she needs that additional piece to round out her coaching tools. She’s also smart enough to know that she’s a little too busy to get it done. So, she’s hiring a ghost writer. In fact, she’s already been working with one on some articles and social media work. Problem is, she’s not sure she’s got the RIGHT writer. Some of the articles go in a different direction than she would have gone on her own. Some of it doesn’t sound like her. So, how do you know if you have the right ghost writer?

Here are 5 tips to hiring the RIGHT ghost writer:

1. Meet the candidates. Ideally, a face to face meeting is the way to go, but at a minimum you want a good phone conversation with any writer you’re considering. You need to determine if your personalities mesh. Is he buttoned up and get down to business? Is she more relaxed and casual? What works for you? Do you enjoy talking with him or her? And, bottom line, is she listening? If all a writer does is talk about themselves, how in the world are they ever going to hear you?

2. Ask how they work. How they get stuff done can determine the end product. Do they want you to provide notes and materials they’ll review? Do they want to interview you and use that as the foundation of the book? Typically, not always, a ghost writer who interviews you – and records those interviews – will do a better job of writing in your voice. That’s because they’ll have your voice, your words and your phrasing to work from. That means the end product will sound just like you wrote it yourself.

3. Have the money talk. Get an idea of what you’re walking into here. Do they work on an hourly rate, flat rate or a fee plus a percentage of profits? They’ll need to get some information from you regarding the scope of the project, but then any good writer will give you a bid or estimate. Sure things change, but chances are you’ll feel better with a total estimate or flat rate instead of a writer who wants to charge you hourly. And, let me say right here, don’t expect this to be cheap. A professional writer is going to listen to you for hours, talk about you, write about you and in the end, provide you with a book you get to put your name to. You need to expect to pay anywhere from $2000-$10,000. The range is big because a lot depends on how long the book is, how much time it will take and how much work it will take to get there. Some projects can be done in 2 months, some will take 6 or more.

4. Expect a timeline. When you talk to them about ‘how they work’ find out if they’re willing to give you a timeline (schedule). Sure, life happens and things can get delayed (on their end or yours), but you need a ballpark idea of how long of a project you’re starting. And, a good timeline should include how much time you have to give them feedback on each submission. That helps keep everyone on track.

5. Read some samples. You might have thought this should come first, but with ghost writing that’s not always possible. Sure, you can read samples of their work, but they may not be able to provide work by previous clients if there are confidentiality agreements in place. If you’re focusing on non-fiction business and how-to books, most writers can give you something. However, few folks who’ve published their memoirs what people to know someone else actually wrote it. So, ask for what you can review and do that.

6. Bonus Tip – Go with your gut. If you go through all the steps above and it’s down to two ghost writers, check in with your instincts. Who do you think is going to be the easiest or most fun to work with? Because, regardless of how long it takes and how much it costs, you should enjoy the process!

Now, go find your ghostwriter and get to writing! If you find you’d like more information on the process of working with a ghost writer, shoot me an email at mavis@mamboproductions.com. I’d love to help you tell your story!